Whirlpool Flame Lock water heaters, reviews, troubleshooting, repair and support.

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Terry, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. tcharles2

    tcharles2 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Whirlpool smart flamelock water heater

    Maybe this might shed some light on whirlpool or not but recently i purchased a whirlpool smart flame lock water heater 50 Gal. I noticed that the piolet would go out after a few days. I watched as i re-lit the piolet and noticed that water would drip down the center tube that vents the heat. It appeared to be a leak but was not a constant rate. At first i thought a new water heater leaking? and a high priced model too? I called Whirlpool and got a tech from india that brought back all the nightmares i have had dealing with any american company that has out sourced there customer service. To make a long story short the tech said the water heater swets and this is normal. After calling him several good old american names i learned from sailors i got his attention and found out that their is a massive recall on these units. For the so call sweting over the pilot light as well as the thermocouplers and a few other poorly designed components. Best decesion is to call Whirlpool give them hell get a return recall ID number haul the crap back to the store and buy a different brand for now. Seems they are in a big low on manufacturing water heaters at this time. in short run away from whirlpool as fast as you can!
  2. BrentAudi

    BrentAudi New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Whirlpool Flame Lock Flamer Woes.....

    Okay.....
    This is a great thread, and a great site! Thanks to all that posted your troubles about this crazy hot water tank design!
    Here is the bottom line......
    I have had this hot water tank for about 1.5 years. It is a 40 gallon version. Yep, bought it at Lowes. It is located in my basement. I work from home, and can hear when the tank comes on to heat the water because the burner is so loud. The last few weeks I have been getting really light headed, and getting terrible headaches. I also noticed that I would smell a "soot" type smell in the house. Well, being the airhead that I can be, I never once thought that what was actually happening was my headaches and the smell I was getting in the house was from the hot water tank, and just thought I caught a bug or something. About three days ago, I went down to the basement, and the smell that was in the house was very strong down in the basement. I then noticed that the smell was coming from the hot water tank, and it seemed to be coming from the bottom of the tank. So, I then started the search, and found all of you peoples woes.
    So I decided that day to see if the "vent" on the bottom needed to be cleaned. It was dusty, but to me, not clogged in anyway. I then took off the front cover by the gas inlet, and to my surprise, I noticed that my take had the "new and improved" larger square viewing window and such. I vacuumed under the tank where the dust was on the "vent", and not much came off. This did not help. So, I then decided to take off the viewing window, and actually make the square hole bigger, to let in more air.
    The smell has stopped, the burner is actually not as loud, and it seems like the "on-time" of the burner is less.
    I am okay with this because I am not an idiot that stores flammable things in the basement. The smell has stopped, and I have not had a headache in days.
    I really think that this tank does not supply enough air to the burner. Again, my "vent" at the bottom was not all that clogged.
    I don't want to deal with Whirlpool, nor Lowes about this issue. I do want to eventually replace this tank with a "Tankless" gas hot water system. I just have not done enough research to find out what is that best right now.
    I am not expecting everyone to do what I did! That is not the intention of this post. It did however, work for my "flame less" tank. And if can hold out for another year, that would be great.
    Thanks again for your post! I would have never figured this out on my own. It is however scary to me to think that these tanks are working in this manner, all over the United States!
    Brent
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shut the thing off and return it to Lowes! You are describing CO poisoning and have altered the basic bad design into an unapproved design... May I suggest having a plumber install a Bradford White, or, Reem water heater...
  4. whilrpool modifications

    Brentaudi...........
    Modifying that FVIR heater is something that a professional
    cannot not do without running the risk of getting sued some-day...

    of course you personally can do anything you want to that unit,

    if you read this thread you see where some folks
    have literally broke the glass sight port and left a gap
    between the burner assembly and the side of the heater...
    to get more air into that peice of junk......

    you did not mention wether your heater had the new
    high limit re-set switch on the side wall of the unit.....

    either in o7 or o6 they modified the piece of junk that they
    sell to upgrade the unit with that re-set button....


    Beware...... if you have been getting headaches
    from that heater that is not good sign at all.

    God is tryihg to tell you something..

    you better keep a real close eye on it
    or on some cold winter morning you or someone else in
    your home could wake up dead....

    at least get a carbon monoxide dectetor http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/
    or do like redwood says and change it out.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    While adding air the way you did may cause the burner to burn the gas better you may have a flue / venting problem...You need to have everything checked out to be sure or you and your loved ones could leave this planet sooner than you thought.

    Rheem makes a good heater to replace that one with.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2008
  6. BrentAudi

    BrentAudi New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Thanks Guys!!!

    Thanks for caring guys!
    The tank actually did have the larger square window for viewing, but not that reset button. I was at Lowes tonight, and did see that the new improved "Flame Lock" tanks did have the reset button, and some of them had a Honeywell control valve. I did not even know that Honeywell made control valves for HW Tanks. Anyway, A very nice worker at Lowes asked me if I needed any help. I then asked him if he has had any complaints about this type of water heater made by Whirlpool, and he said: "Not at all! They are the best in the market." I just said thanks, and walked on.
    Well....you guy's caring actually got me paranoid about the vent flue. I decided to get it checked out tomorrow by a good buddy that is a Licensed Plumber. I will let you guys know what his report comes out with. When I called him and told him why I needed it checked out, (because I was getting headaches and such) he asked what kind of Tank did I have. I told him, and then he said: "Oh, I see, you want me to change out your tank"? I just chuckled, and said that I just wanted him to come and check the flue, and tell me what he thinks.
    Also, I do have a Carbon Detector, and it never went off in the house. It did however go off when I plugged it in in the Basement.
    Will let you all know what the plumber tells me:confused:.
    Thanks again for the great site, and this thread!
    Brent
  7. LYEING slobs AT lOWES

    that is so cute that they dont mention anythihng about their past problems...........

    if you looked at that new honeywell energy smart valve on their best heater.....

    it looks like another problem just waiting to happen
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Saturday I went to Lowes to pick up a part... (I hate doing plumbing on Saturday afternoon) and they had 3 of them little piggies on carts sitting by the returns desk! LOL I was tempted to ask the plumber (sic) if there were any problems with the units, then ask why there were 3 being returned but he was out to lunch or, something.
  9. BrentAudi

    BrentAudi New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Phew....

    Hello all,
    Well, my plumber friend came by and check out my flue's and such. He said that everything looks good, and there is good draw for both Furnace and HW Tank.
    He did tell me that his shop has had many of these FlameLock tanks. His opinion is that there is not enough draw from the bottom for the burner during cold temps, and more so when there it lint & debris caught in the filter on the bottom. Anyway, he suggested that I get another tank, and I told him that I wanted to go tank-less. So I am shopping for a tank-less water heater. I just like very, very hot temps for water, and this is what has stopped me from getting something as of yet.
    I told my plumber that I saw at Home Depot a GE HW Tank that has a "Power Vent" on top of the exhaust. Like the new model furnaces. He told me that he thought that many states, on by one would start to make this code. He said that most furnaces and HW tanks in the US are vented in one vent. He tells me that venting a "fan forced" furnace vent with a regular HW tank, is not always good. He said when the code was written for this type of exhaust, it was okay, but they are not from test realizing that is not very good for draft.
    I love GAS appliances. I always have, for many reasons. They just scare me sometimes.
    I will keep you up to date if I get a tankless. Give me your comments on Tanksless HW heaters.
    Thanks for everything guys and gals!
    Brent
  10. ActionDeath

    ActionDeath New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Flame Trap Modification?

    This thread has been more helpful than Lowes, AWHC, or the Consumer Complaints sites.

    My situation:

    Pilot out, wouldn't re-light, cleaned flametrap, didn't work.
    Called WP, paid $18 for door kit w/thermal switch.
    Installed door kit, pilot lights but won't stay lit after first cycle, checked thermal switch but there was nothing to "reset" (not really a switch or button at all), after unit cools, pilot lights again, called WP, paid nothing for new valve.
    Installed new valve, same problem as before.
    Jumpered TC adapter, unit works fine.

    Now, I don't intend to leave the jumper in place. I am a big fan of safety devices. My question is, has anyone attempted to modify the flametrap screen with slightly larger openings rather than removing the glass for more air flow? Is there a way to remove the screen completely, from underneath, for regular thorough cleaning?
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    The best course of action it to shut off the gas valve. Shut off the water supply. Remove the smoke pipe. Drain the water heater cut the 2 water pipes. Undo the gas supply. Move it aside for a new Rheem or, Bradford-White!
  12. sp it begins agian with their new one...........


    Once the figure out how to bypass that high limit switch, then
    its just a matter of time before someone burns down their house....


    You really cant do anything to that bi-metal heat screen underneath that heater,
    I though of getting a sharp punch and trying to blow some holes through it,
    but you have to take the heater out to do this...
    the screen point welded into place...

    you are not supppoed to have to tamper with them in the first place
    but the only thing that seems to work is letting in ari through the front cover...


    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/


    Do like REDWOOD stated and simply change the heater
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  13. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Mark...if you punch holes in it it will allow flammable vapors to ignite and you will be liable for it.
  14. I know ...........


    Yes you are right, the same thing with takeing off the front cover too..


    the same thing with by-passing the hi-limit thermal fuse.....

    people are doing this all over the country..

    basically makeing the heater back into a pre2003 unit.....illegally..........




    Honestly the Government really ought to pull that design of heater off the market..

    their is no way that they have passed the UL standaards or
    ANTSI rateings

    Whirlpool has had to bribe someone to keep this on the market and
    it is not fari to all the other competitors ou there that
    have good designs like rheem and White

    ..http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/galleryiii/
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  15. ActionDeath

    ActionDeath New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Can't, I'm broke. My Wife and I are both unemployed right now. Does Lowes only sell WP water heaters? I mean, if I try to return it for a store credit (no receipt), do I HAVE to get another WP? If so, I'd rather just try to make this one work. Even if they do allow the exchange, I'll have to figure out a way to pay for installation.

    I just thought the safest way to mod. one of these would be to mod. the poorly designed flame trap in a way that would allow more air into the unit. Thought I'd see if anyone had tried that. Believe me, I'd love to just get a new one, and leave the old one at the front door of Lowes, but that just isn't going to work for me right now.
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Have ya got CO detectors with fresh batteries?
  17. ActionDeath

    ActionDeath New Member

    Messages:
    5
  18. ActionDeath

    ActionDeath New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Question about Flamable Vapors

    I'm not any kind of expert, but with the a gas furnace within 10 feet of the water heater, a furnace with no POS flamelock safety guard air-tight combustion chamber system, if flamable vapors were present, wouldn't the furnace ignite them? I mean, if that is the sole purpose of this crap, and my furnace is not equipped with such features, couldn't I just feed it more air and keep all of my flamable vapors out in the garage?
  19. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    A water heaters combustion chamber is low to the floor where most flammable vapors will fall to and be drawn in to it, creating a fire.

    Most furnace combustion chambers are higher up.

    Water heaters in a garage are required to be up off the floor for this reason.
  20. ActionDeath

    ActionDeath New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Gotcha. That makes sense, it just seems to me that anyone with any sense would just keep anything flamable far away from any pilot flames. I guess there's an idiot born every minute.

    Well, I spoke with WP again today... Had a nice young lady in the Philippines tell me she would send me another gas valve, I asked for a manager... A gentleman in India told me that they will not give me a new water heater unless mine is not repairable and that mine was definitely repairable. He transferred me to an American who walked me through a simple adjustment of the TC adapter, still wouldn't light. He asked me to bypass the thermal switch and it still wouldn't light. He told me to replace the TC and if that didn't work, I would get a new unit. I imagine another Whirlpool, but they're making good on the warranty and thats all I want. Well, that and hot water.

    Funny though, I tried once more after I got off the phone with him and it lit just fine. Still, with the switch bypassed. Should I even waste the money on yet ANOTHER TC? I don't think there is anything wrong with it. I don't have a multimeter to test it, but it's been through several cycles with the switch bypassed and the pilot is still going strong.
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